Everyone wants companionship. For seniors, however, it might be vital to their well-being.
Older people — especially those with dementia — often experience depression, a byproduct of isolation and loneliness. Bonding with an animal can fill this void with unconditional love. Plus, according to experts, merely petting an animal can boost serotonin, lower blood pressure, elevate mood and much more.
Of course, not dogs will suit an older adult. They tend to need a gentle pooch — and one that requires less maintenance. If you’re searching for a senior-ready dog, consider the six breeds below.
The average Maltese weighs under seven pounds, making them easy for a senior to pick up. Beyond that, though, this breed provides owners with plenty of attention and affection. These white fluffballs like to sit on laps and snuggle. Plus, they’re brilliant, so they typically train and behave well.
A Maltese will need regular grooming, but they don’t often flare up a person’s allergies — their fur is hypoallergenic. Be sure to source your pup from a reputable breeder to ensure they don’t have any common breed-related health issues, such as liver defects or glaucoma.
2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a versatile pooch — one that will quickly adapt to a city or suburban lifestyle. These pups make fantastic companions, too. They love to socialize and play. Plus, they’re great watchdogs.
This breed is not hypoallergenic and requires regular at-home brushings to keep hair untangled. Plus, these dogs like to go on long walks. Regular physical exercise is excellent for seniors as it prevents the loss of muscle mass, among other benefits. If you want to boost fitness, this might be the dog to help you do it.
3. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
A Pembroke Welsh Corgi has a lot in common with their human companions. These pups love to be around people, and they can get lonely if they’re not socialized well. A senior owner will have plenty of time to dedicate to their pooch, meaning they’ll make a great match.
Corgis can weigh up to 30 pounds. Owners should be aware of their diet needs to ensure they don’t get too big. Another Corgi fact to consider — they have two coats. This attribute makes them weather-resistant, but they do shed a lot. Regular brushing will reduce the amount of hair left behind.
4. Italian Greyhound
Unlike the Corgi, the Italian Greyhound has a hypoallergenic coat that requires no maintenance. However, they’ll need a jacket in cold weather, as their hair doesn’t provide enough warmth.
If you’re willing to slip a doggie sweater on your pet pre-walk, you might be the perfect match for the Italian Greyhound. These lightweight dogs can be super playful and silly — they won’t fail to put a smile on your face. For seniors, look into adopting an older dog who’s not as energetic as his youthful counterparts.
5. Scottish Terrier
Scottish Terriers — often called Scotties — don’t have a knack for running. So, as a senior dog owner, you don’t have to worry about this pup racing away and pulling you with them. Instead, they’ll be happy to walk at your speed, which will give you peace of mind on your daily jaunts.
Other than that, Scotties do well with children, and they can live happily in a small space. They do like to spend time outdoors, especially if they have somewhere to dig. These dogs were bred to dig for burrowing rodents, so they’ll happily sift through the dirt in your backyard.
Poodles seem to be everywhere these days. They’re very smart and learn quickly. This asset makes training a breeze. They don’t shed, either, meaning there’s no need to vacuum every day. This breed is known for its calm temperament — great around families and other dogs.
Poodles need regular socialization and exercise, but you don’t just have to take them for walks. This breed loves a good swim, too, an activity that’s easy on joints. Poodles come in three sizes — standard, miniature and toy. If you’re looking for a small pooch who’s easy to carry, a toy breed is best for you.
The Best Dog Breeds for Seniors
A dog can make the perfect companion for an older adult. These six breeds represent only a handful of the gentle pups available. You might want to consider a rescue or mixed-breed dog, too. Before you decide, be sure your energy levels match up. You don’t want to end up with a puppy bouncing off the walls — not when you’re a senior looking to relax.
Ultimately, research and preparation will lead to the ideal pup-senior pairing. Do you want a breed known for their wit? Perhaps you’re looking for a snuggle buddy with love to share. No matter your choice, a dog in your life will make it better than before.